Matthew Goode when he was the sexiest Brit around

September 2008 By Philip Berk

Matthew Goode doesn’t need anyone to remind him just how good he is. (Pun excused)

His performance in The Look Out said it all.

When he was first suggested for the role, the director Scott Frank’s response was, “You mean the Rupert Everett guy from Match Point, he’s going to play a thug from Kansas!”

Well, play him he did, and even though the film went straight to DVD, it’s opened surprising avenues for him.

At his press conference for Brideshead Revisited he’s in a very jocular mood, even joking about not having worked for almost a year.

“People are under a misconception when they tell me ‘You make good choices.’ I tell them, ‘I auditioned.’ I don’t think I’ve ever turned work down. I just haven’t gotten much of it.”

And to prove his point he uses Watchman as an example.

“I was filming Brideshead and didn’t know anything about Watchmen, which is going to be sacrilegious to some people. I auditioned for it sitting on a toilet in the York hotel because I had no time during filming so I did it sitting on the shitter. We hung a towel behind me, trousers on by the way, and I read these two scenes like I don’t get it. I killed 15 million people! This sounds weird. So I sent it off and Zack (Snyder who made the 300) said, ‘Yeah, we’d like to take you,’ and I thought that’s utterly remarkable, but I think it was because of my work in The Lookout. I don’t think people thought I was an actor before, and I’m still not sure they do now, but I’m really looking forward to it. I play Adrian Veidt, also known as Ozimandias, who’s the smartest man in the world, so suspend your disbelief. He’s also very agile and bla bla bla. We’re hugely looking forward to it. I haven’t seen it. I’m throwing myself to the lions at Comic Con next week.’ 

Brideshead Revisited has just opened in the states to mixed reviews, but his performance has been well received.

Why the initial reluctance to play Charles Ryder?

“I had read the book when I was about twelve so I don’t think I understood every single nuance, but then  about five years ago my agent gave me the television series as a kind of gift saying, ‘This is the greatest thing that’s ever been on British television, you should watch it and learn from it.’ So I had some reticence about doing it, and I took it to the family table. My mother was like, ‘Oh for Christ sake, why are they going to remake that,’ and I was like, ‘And they’re thinking of casting me as Charles. ‘That’s wonderful darling.’ On a second reading, I found him quite cold, and I couldn’t understand him. But then I knew that Emma Thompson was going to be in it and Michael Gambon, and Ben Whishaw. If they had signed off on the idea. how could I not!”

Diana Quick, the original Julia, gave Hayley Atwell her blessing . Did you ever hear from Jeremy Irons?

“Fuck all from Jeremy,” he jokes. “Absolutely nothing, but I’ve never had the pleasure, although I hear he’s a really nice man indeed. I suppose I could have written to him, but I thought that looked a little weak. He was asked to play my father, and he declined. But I’d love to meet him and chat about it because it’s a very draining experience when you’re making a film about the aristocracy for the price of a good house in Holland Park. I mean that was our budget.”

What was it like working with Ben Whishaw?

“He’s a very intense wonderful young man. If he were here right now we’d be having a laugh together. But when action happens, he just disappears, something I wouldn’t say about myself. When we started shooting he had just given the best Hamlet in 40 years. If we hadn’t had our chemistry going on, it would have been somebody else playing my part.”

Not knowing where his next job is coming from doesn’t bother him in the least.

Where does that confidence come from?

“It’s an act, a play within a play within a play. Look, I don’t live in Hollywood. There’s a lot more pressure given the amount of movies that are made here. I live an insular life back in London. I hang out occasionally with other actors, but I’ve got many other things to worry about like catering to my girlfriend or vacuum packing stuff from New York and bringing it back over. It’s slightly different to worrying about will I get a part in Harry Potter 7. So I don’t know. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve had the guidance of Simon Beresford who’s been my agent and will be till he pops his clogs. We’ve only argued about me doing one project. I won’t name it, but he was right. I’ve had to borrow money off my sister or off Simon, but I’m now at a stage where having been lucky enough to have worked in good product, I’m finally in the red — I still don’t own a house in London because of the crazy credit crunch we’re in — but I feel exceedingly lucky, and over the next decade, I’m looking forward to getting even further out of the limelight and buying something somewhere in the country and growing my own vegetables, and as as sad as that sounds that will make me really happy.”